From Melancholy to Malevolent to Metamorphoses
by Rick Forster
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From me to you.
I was hovering above where my friend and I sat. I didn’t feel like I was floating or having had any movement at all. But I was elevated and looked down at myself sitting next to my friend.
We had just gotten off work, and I suggested that we stop and have a beer before I took him home. As we entered the darkness in one of Tampa’s sordid girly bars, we found our way to the nearest seat, sat down and ordered a beer. I then realized where I was and the fact that I had just accepted Christ a week earlier, and I knew in my heart that I had no business being in that bar. I had never been a Christian before and didn’t think about what I was doing until that moment. I mean, I had just come to the point where I believed the bible was true and that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but it is still a leap from being an atheist all of your life, and then to become a Christian. I wasn’t sure what I should do, we couldn’t leave after just ordering a beer, and so I began to pray. I didn’t close my eyes or anything, but I did ask that God would help me to believe in him more then I currently did. I had learned the facts and accepted what I never thought possible, but still…a spiritual realm? Then I felt a chill.
I immediately became defensive and looked around trying to spot the danger. Something was wrong, and in my tour in Nam I developed a pretty good sixth-sense for trouble. I was already feeling guilty for having brought God into a topless bar, what else could I do but continue praying? I figured that as soon as the girl brought us our beer, I would pay her and we would get the heck out of there. I retrieved ten-dollars from my billfold and laid it on the bar. I didn’t want to waste any time. Then, in an instant, I went from sitting to hovering. I could even see myself sitting at the bar right next to my friend. “What in the world was happening?” I wondered.
The music began and this beautiful young girl stepped up on the stage right in front of me. I was just behind us and to the side; I had the best seat, or location, in the house. The girl began to dance. I must have been in some kind of shock. I mean, I was of sound mind—I hadn’t even received my first beer yet, but I was outside of myself watching this bizarre scene, and yet everything seemed okay to me.
Then the music began to change. It went from normal music to something that sounded a bit like electrical sounds that were causing the notes to be all over the scale losing the rhythm entirely. Only, it was much louder and getting louder all the time. I like my music loud, but this was way beyond that. It was so loud, and now there were scratching and squealing sounds that it was actually starting to hurt my ears. I felt myself covering my ears with both hands, but it didn’t help any.
Then I noticed that the girl’s facial features started to change. It was like her make-up was coming off before my eyes and the years were becoming more obvious. The smooth face began to reveal wrinkles that seemed out of place in a bar like this. This was a popular club that catered to the young executive and well-off client. But even the skin on her legs was changing from the soft supple flesh of a young lady to reveal cellulite marks that stretched down both legs. Then I noticed all the people around the stage. I still saw my friend and I sitting there, but instead of being the only ones at the bar every seat was now filled. And there were several guys standing behind the chairs and pushing against each other trying to get closer to the stage. I don’t know where they came from, but they were shouting and cheering and many were reaching out trying to touch the dancer. At first I thought they were going to give her a tip, but their actions were more aggressive. Occasionally, one guy would grab the girl’s leg, and you could see the welt where his fingers had been. The dancer was doing her best to stay out of their reach, but there were just too many hands to miss all of them.
When I looked at the girl again, she was much older than the girl that first climbed onto the stage. She went from 20-something to 70-something in a matter of a few minutes. The flimsy T-back that fit her perfectly when she climbed onto the stage, now hung from her hips as her skin sagged everywhere. And, making it even more bizarre than ever, now her movements were becoming erratic and kind of jerky. And for the fist time, you could see the fear in her eyes. She was terrified, but the guys kept pushing in and grabbing her; they had no compassion for her at all. In fact, the more she would squeal or cry out in pain, when one of the guys would grab her or smack her on the backside, the more determined they became. She wasn’t dancing anymore; instead she was just trying to keep away from everyone’s hands. She looked like she knew she was not going to win this battle; it was just a matter of time. I wondered why she didn’t get off the stage, but then I saw that there were several guys that had blocked her escape. And no one was coming to her rescue. No one was going to mess with these guys. They were big, they were ugly, and they were some of the meanest looking guys I have ever seen. Nobody was going to stop them; besides, there must have been 20 to 30 of them. And they looked like they were out for blood.
Their clothes were ragged and barely fit them. And several of them wore no shirts at all. I could see some of their faces. Most had large tattoos on them, and many were bald and had tattoos on their head. I even saw tattoos on several of their faces. But it was their eyes that scared me the most. And they looked like they hated that poor girl...or woman. At first, I thought they were just blowing off some steam. But they weren’t having fun; they were furious. They weren’t just shouting obscenities at the girl and trying to grab her or smack her; they looked like they were grinding their teeth and about to consume her. I mean they looked like they wanted to kill her.
“What in the hell made me stop here?” I wondered. There were only a couple cars in the parking lot when we pulled in.
These guys were filled with rage, and I felt terrible for that poor…old…lady that was the object of their frenzy. I wanted to help, but I was frozen with fear. They looked like a hungry pack of wild animals and I was too afraid to do anything. I thought about calling 911, but I couldn’t move. I was so ashamed of myself, and that poor woman; she didn’t have a chance.
As I watched this scene from hell, the girl started to jerk all over, kind of fitful. Her arms, her legs, everything was moving somehow surrealistic. I wasn’t even sure a body could move the way she did now. One guy had a hold of one leg, and then she was jerked out of his grip. Then I recognized her movements. I couldn’t see any strings or anything, but I knew that someone was controlling her movements. That was it; she looked like a worn out marionette being controlled by someone out of sight. She was jerked backward again, and then one of the guys on the far side of the stage, turned his head and looked straight at me—not where I sat, but where I was. Our eyes locked for just a second, but it scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t even breathe.
And then just like that, it was over. As fast as it happened, I was back into myself. Still terrified, but…
Frantically, I looked around me ready to fight if I had too. But as I looked, all of the other seats were empty again. When I finally looked at my friend, he was looking at me like I was crazy or something. But I didn’t care. Something just happened, and I felt like I was lucky to have survived it. I wanted to run out of there, but I couldn’t budge. I reached out and grabbed my beer and took one very long drink. Then, I felt that cold chill again, and, like I was about to be shot, I slammed my beer down, grabbed my friend by the arm and nearly drug him out of there. He was trying to fight me off, but he didn’t have a chance. Once outside and back to my car, I turned around to look back at the bar, and I saw that there was a dark cloud that enclosed the entire building. My friend kept asking me what the hell was going on, but he had no idea how close, to the truth, he was. But I couldn’t get over the fact that that one guy looked at me, and our eyes locked onto each other. In fact, I was so afraid of that connection that I didn’t leave my home for at least a week. I told everyone that I was sick, but it was fear that kept me home. For a long time after that I didn’t even walk outside at nighttime. If you want to know the truth, every time I think of someone not saved, especially those I care about, I see that bar scene and tremble. I don’t want anyone to have to face whatever it was that was controlling that scene. All I know is that I felt lucky to have gotten out of there.
It happened. I was there. And if anyone else had experienced what I did, they too would know it was neither a hallucination nor some invention of my imagination. It was a strange experience. But it was real. I have questioned myself a thousand times, and every time I know it was real. And although I had already accepted the truth, there was still some doubt. Not much, but some. How else could you go from being an atheist and thinking the whole thing ridiculous, and not have some doubts? I knew the truth because of the research I had done, but still… But in the few minutes we were in that bar, all doubts were removed.
I know the truth. Perhaps God caused this to happen because he knew that I was more familiar with the violence and the evil in humanity than to the love and grace you think of when you think of God or Heaven. And that would be true for most of my life. As a kid, I grew up with an alcoholic father that would get drunk on a regular basis, and then beat up his wife while this kid tried to help his mother. Then, as soon as I graduated high school, I went to Vietnam as a combat infantryman, and ended up with two Purple Hearts and a bum back for the effort. And for most of my life, up to that point, I too was a drunk. I never brought the anger home, nor did I lay a hand on my wife, but in many ways I was like my father. Every time I drank, and I drank often, I did so because I wanted to get drunk. Party every chance I could. Drink, smoke and raise hell. Then an accident that nearly killed me saved my life. I suffered, and still do, but at least it slowed me down. Until then, however, my wife thought I was suicidal because of all the risk I took.
Nowhere in my life was there any room for God. Not as a young boy, and not as a young man. Not here, not there, not anywhere. Until, that is, I discovered the challenge that made me want to know. I realize that for most of my family and friends, believing in God seems impossible. To them it’s like leaping with Alice or jumping into Tolkien’s tale. I know how they feel because I felt the same way. But we were—and they are—wrong. And no matter how ridiculous they may think this is, know this—I would never make this claim unless I knew. And I do know!
And if you don’t believe, please at least hear me out. I discovered the truth before that evening in that bar, but this letter is the why and how I came to find that truth. I was an atheist until I was about 40-years old and proud of it. I loved denying the existence of a God. But when I tried to refute the bible, so I could use my knowledge to shove God down a few Christian’s throat, to my amazement I discovered evidence that I did not know existed. Then after several months of studying and researching the bible, all of the arguments I had or read about, were shattered by scientific and archeological discoveries. So, once I was able to check my pride and ego, I accepted scriptures as a reliable historical record of antiquity. Then after a thorough search through biblical prophecies and their fulfillment, I started to believe because I couldn’t keep repeating, “There is no God. There is no God.” I must have shaken my head a thousand times, back and forth. “Is this stuff for real?” I kept repeating. “No way! No way!”
But I kept reading research material; shaking my head until the only thing that didn’t make sense any more was my headstrong refusal to believe in anything God. But I kept asking myself if it could possibly be true. I don’t think I wanted it to be true. I had lived quite comfortable with my lack of belief in anything after death. And now I was learning one unbelievable discovery after another.
“Who would believe me?” I wondered. All of my friends had pretty much nothing in common with a God relationship, and I sure did not want to lose the few friends I had. I knew my brother would want nothing to do with it—in fact, I couldn’t think of one friend that believed in God, and here I was on the verge of ostracizing myself from everyone I knew because of all the facts that I kept learning.
Once when talking with a pastor a few months after I accepted the truth, I told him that I didn’t want to lose the people that had come to mean so much to me, when he said that it would be okay, that I would make new friends. And although I have made numerous contacts inside the family of God, I wanted both worlds. I mean, I really like my old friends and hated the thought of losing any of them. And he said that I had to choose. Either I take one and reject the other, or I take the other and worship it over the one. But I think he missed the point. There may be but one truth, however, we are never to lose our love for those that haven’t found that truth. One is not to the exclusion of the other.
Perhaps you are brave enough to take the same challenge that captured me. I honestly believe that if you know the facts that you too would question your beliefs, or lack thereof. And just maybe, you will also discover the truth and believe.
The discoveries I point out in this letter are what made me start to believe in God, and that is why I write it. So that you too can see the evidence as I did. (This letter is not all of the evidence. It is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.) And if you won’t believe my true tale in that bar, then at least believe in the facts that first made me question my disbelief. Read this with an open mind. Listen to me just one more time. Just like I know that you have my back, I have yours.
My search began with the question, “Is the bible reliable? Is there any evidence one way or the other?” So that was where I began, and what I learned may surprise you—it surprised me.
The bible, compared with other historical and ancient texts, has more manuscript evidence than all other pieces of classical literature combined. Yet people believe, as I did, that the bible was written and then passed down from one generation to the next, causing it to have been changed from one interpretation to the next. But what I found was that there are over 24,000 manuscript copies, or portions of the bible: more than five-thousand known Greek manuscripts, over ten-thousand in Latin Vulgate, and several thousand more in other languages (Arabic, Gothic, Persian, Slavic, Armenian etc). When compared with each other they discovered that they were word for word exact in over 95% of the time. And the 5% differences were primarily in the spelling. Furthermore, with all of the evidence discovered by archaeologist, not one artifact has ever contradicted the bible in any way. That alone amazed me. The two copies of the Isaiah text discovered preserved in jars in a cave, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscripts previously known. They also proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% (again, the only changes were variations in spelling and nothing that would change the meaning). One thing I did learn, however, was the incredible way the Jews preserved the bible.
They had different people counting words, letters, consonants, vowels, lines; every possible thing to check was checked and even the checkers were overseen by others. The care they put into preserving biblical text was astonishing. How else could they be so exact? But that still did not prove that it was the word of God. They were, after all, still written by men. And who wouldn’t like others to believe that they were so important that God communicated through them. Of course I still did not know who these authors were and what their situation and circumstances were when they wrote the various books in the bible. That came later. But, at this point, all I wanted to know was whether the bible was reliable or not. And, is the evidence based on scientific discovery?
What I did learn was that the excessive skepticism by the many academic scholars I researched, was not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural. (Josh McDowell)
One archaeologist, Millar Burrows of Yale, “On the whole, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine.”
I could quote one finding after another that supports the bible as an accurate historical record of antiquity. Discovery after discovery established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the bible as a legitimate and accurate source of history. I could give you thousands of scientific research found by archeologist and others. Yet most of the critics I have talked to or read, know only shards of stories about the bible, mainly from movies they have watched or comments they have heard over the years, and yet they refuse to read the bible themselves. It is like they fear that they will be less of a man for having done so. When I was in college, (I didn’t attend college until I was 40 years old and a believer) professors went out of their way to insult the bible and those that believed in it. Yet when I would ask a question about specifics, they would just throw up their hands and act like they had been insulted.
As I studied the bible, I learned that a great deal of it was prophecy. And since Jesus and a couple authors (speaking for God) challenges the reader to prove or disprove the bible by learning whether the prophecies came true or not, I believed that I had found something tangible that I could sink my teeth into. Disproving the bible looked like it was going to be easier then I thought. As I mentioned earlier, once I discovered that the bible was a legitimate historical record, I, like the many archeologist that discovered the evidence before me, had to accept the idea that they were NOT written after the events occurred. And once I read the bible and saw that the prophecies were so detailed and elaborate, I thought there was no way they could possibly have come true exactly as foretold. No way!
I am often surprised when I speak to another Christian about biblical prophecy. More times then not they know very little, if anything, about the subject. I have often asked how they could possibly come to the conclusion that there was a God without knowing whether the prophecies came true or not. But most of the time they simply said something to the affect that they had believed all their lives. However, since I didn’t believe I accepted Jesus’ challenge. Because if some man knew exactly what would happen to people and places, in the exact same sequences some 700 to 2,500 years into the future, it should be obvious that it had to come from a greater source other than man. And so that is the test. If the prophecies are not exactly correct in every detail then don’t believe in God. Simple as that. But if they come true exactly as they were foretold, at some point you have to start weighing the evidence. Keep in mind that what I mention here does not include all the specifics and how the dates have been established through archeological discoveries. My intent is not to prove God, but to excite your curiosity. Then it is up to you.
“No human being has ever made predictions which hold any comparison to those in the bible that we have considered, and had them accurately come true. The span of time between the writing of these prophecies and their fulfillment is so great that the most severe critic cannot claim that the predictions were made after the events happened.” (Peter Stoner in Science Speaks)
“I used to wonder if what these men say really is true. I don’t’ any more, not since I began seeing how these contentions were disproved again and again by archaeology and science. I finally saw that the skeptics are the real enemies of the truth. They are the ones who have the biased attitudes and the dogmatic premises. They gave all their accusations at first and never quit repeating them. However, one by one, their accusations began to dwindle in number and potency as archaeology continued to objectively search and find the facts. Eventually, I refused to even give critics the benefit of doubt and gave up confidence in them completely.” (James Davis, Louisiana Tech)
If you want to read about some incredible events in history, look into the following prophecies:
The city of Tyre, written by Ezekiel 26:2-21 (592-570 B.C.) “Tyre, the mistress of the seas, the trade and commercial center of the world for centuries, passed away never to rise (re-build the city) again. The fisherman drying their nets upon the rocks that once formed the foundation of that ancient metropolis and the last link in the chain of prophecy that Ezekiel gave over twenty-five hundred years ago.” (Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict)
Other cities destroyed by enemies had been rebuilt. But twenty-five hundred years ago a Jew in exile in Babylonia looked into the future at the command of God and wrote the words, “thou shall be built no more!”
Springs still flow, measured by an engineer and found to be about 10,000,000 gallons daily, but their waters runs into the sea. It is still an excellent site for a city and would have free water enough for a large modern city, yet it has never been rebuilt. The prophecies regarding Tyre has stood true for more than 2,500 years.
Whether you believe in God or not, reading about Moab-Ammon will knock your socks off. Then there is the city Nineveh, written by Nahum. One of the bewildering riddles of history is that this nation—at her apex in 663 B.C. fell to oblivion in just fifty-one years never to be heard from again. Then there is the city of Palestine written by Leviticus and Ezekiel. This is one area where documentation is virtually unnecessary because the fulfillments are happening before our eyes, yet the deeper one digs into this the more intriguing it becomes.
I could go on, (after all the bible is one-third prophecy) but you get the point. I have mentioned a book, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, by Josh McDowell, who was an atheist when he first began this project. He took a graduate class and worked on refuting the bible. I know when I first began my search, I found numerous authors that said the bible is a lie, but none of them ever invested any time to substantiate their claim. They simply said something about the bibles many contradictions and refused to look for the facts. Don’t do that yourself. Like I said earlier, knowing that the bible is historically correct and that its prophecies did in fact prove to be true may not prove there is a God, but it comes pretty close.
I don’t think it was any one thing that made me believe. But more like a lot of things, one after another that eventually made me feel for the first time in my life that I just might have made a mistake.
One matter that was a big issue for me, (and one argument I often used as an atheist supporting my view) and was probably the one thing that finally made me change my belief, was the actions of the Disciples after Christ died.
When I was searching for the truth one of the things I really wanted to know was what happened to the disciples after Christ was gone. After all, they were supposedly with the Son of God who performed one miracle after another, and yet they ran when Christ was arrested. And Peter even denied him three times (I saw the movie). I mean he healed the sick, he made the blind see, he fed thousands with only a fish and a piece of bread and he even brought the dead back alive on three different occasions (besides himself). He did these things—not in secrecy or hidden from everyone, he did them out in front of everyone. That is what finally got him killed. Once, when he was told that a dear friend was very ill, Lazarus, he delayed his return just to make sure that he was dead. And when he arrived at Lazarus’ home, three days after he died, in front of everyone so they could witness what they saw, Jesus told them to remove the barrier to Lazarus’ tomb and then he yelled, “Lazarus, come forth.” And beyond everyone’s belief, Lazarus got up and was able to get to the opening still rapped in the burial cloths he was buried in. There was no doubt from anyone there that Lazarus was dead. They had prepared the body and covered the tomb when he began to decompose and smell. Yet in front of everyone, Lazarus was brought back alive. And here these disciples saw all of this and yet they ran in fear for their lives when Jesus was arrested. They had witnessed unbelievable miracles and yet they ran.
Who runs in fear when he knows he is with the Son of God? Who—not only brings the dead back alive, but also has the power to stop the wind and to calm the mighty seas, and he even walked on water and yet they ran. No, I did not have much faith in his disciples. And because they ran, I could not believe their claims. And so, I believed, the Gospels were written by people that wanted everyone else to think that they were special. That God’s Son had specifically selected them. Great story. But they ran, so their credibility was zilch to me. Until, that is, I learned what happened to them after Christ’s death.
Keep in mind all any of them had to do to save their own life, was to deny the resurrection of Jesus. Deny Jesus' resurrection and they could go on with their lives. However, the men that ran from the soldiers in fear now stood like giants willing to die for their faith. Also keep in mind that these men were separated from each other in order to spread the word about Christ. So they did not have the support of their fellow disciples. They faced their terrible torture and death by themselves. Here is what happened to a few of them:
Philip was scourged. (To be scourged was to be whipped by a club that had strips of leather with metal and bone chips fastened to them. Each terrible hit would rip pieces of meat off the person’s body. Soldiers were to keep the beating to 21 hits, but sometimes they just got caught up in all of the fun and excitement.) Philip was thrown into prison and afterward crucified. James was scourged, and then stoned and finally had his brains beat out with a club. Matthias was stoned and then beheaded. Andrew was crucified. The people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis, dragged St. Mark to pieces. Peter was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, something he asked for because he felt he was unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner his Lord was. Paul gave his neck to the sword. Jude was crucified. Bartholomew was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified. Thomas was martyred by being thrust through with a spear. Luke was hanged on an olive tree. Simon was crucified. John was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but escaped. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death. You get the idea. And yet, notwithstanding all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the church increased daily.
What kind of a man would allow himself to be tortured and killed just to protect a lie? Peter even had to watch his wife be crucified the day before he was and yet he never changed his story of the resurrection. Who could do such a thing? None of these deaths prove that there is a God or that Jesus was resurrected, but you have to admit that something happened to change these timid men who ran in fear. Something happened and I believe that they did see the resurrected Christ. Would you suffer and die a horrible death just to continue a lie? No one would. Even if you wanted to, torture has a way of making you see things differently. No, if it were a lie these men would not have allowed themselves to suffer in such a way. They knew the truth—finally. There just isn’t any reasonable explanation other than they did know the truth and denying it was out of the question. How else can you account for such a change in these men’s lives? And, yes, these accounts have also been substantiated by many various texts including Fox’s Book of Martyrs.
Do you still not believe me? Or have you so convinced yourselves that there is no God that you are not about to let any facts cloud the issue? Remember, you don’t have to take my word for it, search the evidence for yourself. You owe it to yourself and all of those that come after you. This is too important to just ignore any longer. There is a Heaven and a Hell; you have but to choose.
Do I understand any of the big cosmic questions? No. But I keep working on it. I am certain only of one thing, and that is that my Lord lives and because he lives I can face death—not with fear but with confidence and full knowledge of what will happen when I die. I know with absolute certainty that I will spend eternity in Heaven. And, yes, like I said earlier, I do have to occasionally review the reasons I believe, but that is only because we mortals are constantly doubting ourselves. But then I remember, and I know. And you can too if you would only make an effort. Seek the truth and discover that the mystery is true. You are going to read something (after you finish reading whatever you are reading now), why not make it the bible; something that has eternal implications? Besides, where else can you read accounts written by Moses, King David and his son, King Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived? And I can assure you that you will be surprised at how brutally honest it is. It reveals the good and bad in every biblical character. In many ways, it is good to know that others have faced and failed temptations just like everyone else. You want a good reason to read the bible, look at the prophecies about the coming messiah, which were all fulfilled by Jesus. You like odds, then check Steven Stoner’s out (see below).
The Old Testament, written over a 1,000-year period contains several hundred references to the coming Messiah. All of these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and they establish a solid confirmation of his credentials as the Christ—the Messiah. Jesus himself fulfilled many of these on purpose in order to fulfill all that was prophesized about him, but there were several that he had no control over. Concerning his birth, his mother, seed of Abraham, son of Isaac, son of Jacob, tribe of Judah, family line of Jesse, house of David, born in Bethlehem, presented with gifts, Herod kills the children, preceded by a messenger (John the Baptist), betrayed by a friend (Judas Iscariot), sold for 30 pieces of silver, money used for potter’s field, forsaken by disciples, accused by false witnesses, wounded and bruised, smitten and spit upon, mocked, hands and feet pierced and crucified with thieves (the fact that he was crucified was foretold 800 years before crucifixion was ever thought of or used by the Romans). He was rejected by his own people, given gall and vinegar on the cross, his bones were not broken, his side pierced, darkness fell over the land, he was buried in a rich man’s tomb, etc, etc, etc. The reason for the bible giving all the family trees with the individual’s name and their fathers name and so on is to show the fulfillment of prophecies and to substantiate the bible as an accurate historical record. What you may think of as boring is its own corroboration.
There are hundreds of prophecies concerning Jesus, but when you look at only eight of the prophecies that he had no control over: i.e. place of birth, time of death, manner of birth, betrayal, manner of death, people’s reactions, piercing and his burial in a rich man’s tomb, the odds of those being fulfilled by one person is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. These are not my numbers. I got them out of Science Speaks, by Peter Stoner, a mathematician and scientist. If you want to see that number it is: 1,000,000,000,000,000. That is one big number, however, when determining the odds for his fulfillment of only 48 prophecies, again only those that he had no control over, it is 1 in 10 to the 157th power.
Seriously, how can you look at those numbers of fulfilled prophecies and not believe there is something going on beyond what man can do on his own? I know it is hard to change one’s beliefs, but at some point you have to sit back and look at all the evidence and admit that perhaps you too have been mistaken. You may not want anything to do with God, but how can you deny him with all the evidence that exist? And if you just hate God because of the many terrible things that happen each and every day, it is only because we don’t understand nor do we see the bigger picture. Our life is very short when looking at eternity. And our perspective is even smaller. But no doubt about it—life is hard. It is not fair and sometimes you can’t imagine why so many terrible things happen to so many good and innocent people—especially children. But I believe that it is how we respond to our suffering that really matters. I don’t know why God allows so much pain, but I do know that I have become a better person as a result of my suffering. That may sound like a fairy-tale, but it is true. I have a lot more compassion for others. We punish our kids and they don’t like it. But we punish them so that they may learn the bigger picture. Please, sometimes I don’t understand my own mind, so I cannot suggest that I know the mind of God. But I do know that God is real. And I do know that he must care a great deal for us for him to allow His Son to be tortured and killed on our behalf. I don’t know why the sacrifice was necessary, but I honestly believe that it is not our suffering that counts but how we deal with it.
I know this is difficult, but you can’t simply continue to ignore the evidence, especially when the stakes are so high and the promise so great. It makes no sense to not even consider the possibilities. Believing in God is a personal experience between you and God. I know that when I got to that point, I continued to pray asking God for proof, and he finally gave me what I needed. But we must take that first step.
I think the first time I ever doubted my disbelief was when I first read the book, “The Exorcist.” But I was young, and I sure did not want to conform to what I thought a Christian was. Besides, I liked to party, and I was pretty sure that that was not allowed. So I ignored it and acted like I would live forever. But when I first saw that movie, the fact that exorcisms were suppose to be true made it that much more scary. And I did wonder if it could be real. Because if there were hellish spirits that could possess humans and could control their actions, then didn’t that mean that the opposite had to be true also? Then when I did research exorcisms, I discovered so many cases including the many legitimate witnesses that substantiated the reports. I mean it absolutely amazed me. Even the Church sanctioned it. I realize how hard it is to believe that there are spiritual beings that we cannot see, and whom walk amongst us. But how else do you explain such a phenomena? One thing I do know, and that is the fact that there is an evil presence in this world. I pray it never touches you or any of yours. But it’s there, whether you choose to believe it or not.
I wish I could make you see, but that is up to you. This is something that you have to do. It is between you and God. And even if you simply cannot believe, ask him to prove it to you—it worked for me. But you must make an effort. Read the bible; you will find that no one person in the bible is without fault. Seek the truth. God is willing to submit to your doubts and questions. But don’t not believe simply because that is what you have always done. Learn for yourself. And don’t think that if you become a Christian that you have to be perfect—perfection just isn’t in our makeup. It’s about the relationship—not perfection. That comes later.
Anyway, I honestly care about you. But I can’t stand by silently—not after what I have learned and what I have experienced. So please consider the evidence.
P.S. If you would like to know how someone can know if they have eternal life in Heaven, please keep reading. If not, at least consider these truths as you draw near.
I suppose if you are still reading this letter, you are either curious or seriously interested in knowing more about what it means to be Heaven bound. I can tell you what the bible say’s about how a person can know that they will spend eternity in a place called Heaven, but it is your decision. I have already made mine. I know that the journey into this belief system must overcome several barriers, but most of all—your current reasoning. But there is a real Supreme Being of great intellect and might, and He has a plan. And His plan involved the creation of beings called man. And this plan made it possible for every human being, in His own likeness (which I believe it to mean that we are also a spiritual being), to achieve the greatest gift of all times. But we must first humble ourselves and admit that we are flawed and that there is a greater power than ourselves.
What we may think about God’s incomprehensible need for worship may not be about God at all—it is about us. I believe that there is an element in worship that edifies the giver as well as the object of that worship. Who can deny that the very best in human nature is when we are willing, and sometimes must do, sacrifice ourselves for those we love. Only when we give it all is our spirit renewed and we know that we have literally done as much as we can. But as long as we wear these skins we will flounder at times. Receiving the gift of eternal life will not change who we are. Understanding what we have only makes things better. Our bodies will continue to age and break down, but to know that you will be given a new body that doesn’t age, one that allows you to continue to dream beyond this life is an incredible belief system that gives hope even when it appears that there is no hope. It’s not over when it’s over. And because of that it allows you to look beyond the grave. Beyond the fear; beyond every pain and every thought that we try to forget but can’t.
Why do you think that most every culture comes from a people that were more in sync with a spiritual heritage? Look through Western and Eastern Civilizations and you will find mystics that communicated with spiritual beings. Some of these beings were good, and some were bad. The fact that America has stood for all that is free and good causes others to hate our guts. If these country’s abilities were stronger, they would delight in nothing more than killing every man, woman and American child. And then they would dance in the street in ecstasy. You can say they are jealous and would be different if they had the same advantages, except they have had a lot more time on this planet than us. They have not done it because they have been so immersed in a spirit of hate that they can’t do anything else but hate. There is evil in this world. And I believe anyone that has lived any time at all knows it. Only in the past few hundred years have our technology advanced us to a point that we feel superior to all other civilizations. We are taught to believe in only what we can see and prove beyond any doubt. But it is that arrogance that cripples us. Because we do live between two worlds: one the here and now, and two the world beyond.
For me this belief happened only after I researched the facts. But, regardless, when we accept the truth that there is a greater good and a greater Supreme Being than ourselves, only then can we be free. Free from all expectations, and free from any worry that this is all there is. And when we accept this only then can we face the life that God has prepared for us, and be at perfect peace with ourselves and with God. Remember, He used to walk through the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He was not only their creator; He was also their friend.
So how can someone know that they have eternal life? The bible tells us that Heaven is a free gift: something unearned and underserved. That God’s Son did come to Earth and provide a way to this paradise. Because of our natural inclination, we cannot pass into this country as we are; we can only come into it after recognizing that Christ paid the penalty for our wrongdoings. Once we recognize that, and have accepted Christ as our benefactor, only then can we know with absolute certainty that when we die that we will be ushered into Heaven. It is as simple as that. But yet it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I don’t understand everything, but I do understand that I will live after I die. And I hope that you learn this as well.
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